This is where you can read the manhwa. https://www.lezhin.com/en/comic/painter But be aware that this manhwa is a mature Yaoi, which means, it is about homosexuality with explicit scenes.
Before starting exposing the topic to this essay, it is important to remind the manhwalovers that for me, Byeonduck’s drawings about the landscape and the sky have always conveyed a certain meaning. In my perspective, they always represented the characters’ thoughts and feelings which reminded me of the expressionism movement. Therefore I wrote the following analyses: Drawings and emotions (part 1-part 2- part 3). And in order to comprehend the following study, it is necessary to have read the part 3, where I examined the moon position and its relationship to the nature. https://bebebisous33analyses.wordpress.com/2020/08/06/painter-of-the-night-drawings-and-emotions-part-3/
As you can imagine due to the title, my focus in this analysis will be on two drawings where the moon appeared. In chapter 58, the manhwalovers could admire this wonderful panel where the moon shone brightly next to the stars and the sky was filled with beautiful snow flakes mixed with stars, while the lord was making love to Baek Na-Kyum. This picture exuded magic and peace of mind. Yet in chapter 59, the readers are viewing a different night sky although it is happening during the same night. The moon is closer, nonetheless covered by clouds. Moreover, the stars are not visible and the snow flakes are less recognizable. We have the impression that there’s some wind due to the multitude of points and the clouds around the moon. It was as if the wind would push the clouds away from the moon and the snow from the roof was blown away by the wind. It was as if the clouds were trying to hide the moon. Since not all the snow flakes are coming from the sky, the few visible are the ones falling from the sky. From my perspective, there is a mixture of snow fall and wind-swept snow indicating that there’s a certain restlessness. As you can sense, we have a panel oozing calmness and clarity first and the other image emanating confusion and restlessness. Why is it so different, although it is the same night? As you can imagine, there is a reason for that and you might have already found the answer.
Before starting studying the second panel, I would like to remind my readers about the interpretation I made about the first panel posted in the analysis “Yoon Seungho’s love confession: Dream and reality”.
“This represents the painter’s gaze at his lover, as Seungho is embodied by the moon and the night sky. The moon shines brightly and the stars are even visible. This picture oozes a certain warmth as the beholder can distinguish the snow flakes very well. For me, this picture mirrors the painter’s thoughts. Now, he is able to recognize and enjoy the lord’s affection.”
However, what caught my attention first is the distance of the moon, especially if you compare it to the picture from chapter 59. Although the satellite glows so strongly, it looks so far. Yet during that night, the two protagonists were actually getting closer. Consequently we have to wonder about the reason for this gap. But the answer is quite simple if you recall that this image represents the painter’s perspective. Thereby the distance symbolizes the painter’s thinking. We shouldn’t forget that the latter has problems to accept the obvious. It is so incredible that it can’t be true, that’s how he thinks. For him, the noble is so powerful and stands so far above him, while he’s just a low-born who was raised at a brothel. Even a low-noble like Jung In-hun looked down on him and now an aristocrat from a higher position is loving him, it sounds so unrealistic. It was, as if this reality was just a mirage. As the manhwaphiles can sense, the gap reflects the painter’s internalization of norms and values.
The other striking detail is the disposition of the buildings and their respective roof. They don’t serve as a border, rather the opposite. It was as if there was an imaginary road leading to the moon and the trees were showing the way to the painter. The tree tops remind the spectators of fingers pointing to the moon. Furthermore, for the second time, we have the presence of nature in such a panel, while it was rarely in the past. Besides, if you compare it to the first image (chapter 4), you’ll notice that the tree is facing the roof. I interpret the position like this. Back then, the artist had to choose between his conscious (social norms), embodied by the roof where he denied his homosexuality, and his unconscious (his true desires), symbolized by the tree. The moon, a representation of Yoon Seungho, stood in the middle creating this inner conflict in the painter. And even so, the presence of civilization was more dominant than anything else. In the second picture, nature is barely visible (only water with some lotus), while we have two pavilions. However, in the drawing from the chapter 58, the readers can detect the switch. Nature is getting more importance as it occupies more place in the drawing. The number of trees has significantly increased. Furthermore, the roofs are covered with wood/ hay hence we don’t sense the presence of culture in this picture. We even have the impression that the trees are coming from the roof. With the former meaning, I deduce that the painter is no longer repressing his desires, is acknowledging his sexual orientation, yet the second roof symbolizes the remaining of social values. Since Baek Na-Kyum is still in denial due to the huge social gap, this becomes more understandable why he has issues to accept the truth. To summarize, we witness the flourishing of nature, which is strongly connected to the artist. And this is no coincidence. For me, it was, as if nature had been able to defeat civilization, society and its traditions. The lord’s love for the artist is a symbol for nature. Besides, according to my interpretation, the painter is associated to Earth hence to nature. The presence of the trees are a clue for this. Thanks to this magical night, the artist and the lord are slowly reconnecting to their true self. This explains why the lord can sleep peacefully and the painter is thinking very carefully and calmly. The presence of the trees, connected to the roof and representing Baek Na-Kyum’s emotions and sexual orientation, are now a real part of his identity. In other words, his conscious is slowly integrating these values. In my perspective, the starry night illustrates the painter’s transformation. Little by little, he is getting stronger as he has been able to find a roof over his head, a real home.
And striking is in chapter 59 Baek Na-Kyum is going outside in order to ponder about this magical night. It was, as if he wanted to clear his mind and think calmly, proving to me that the peace of mind is not just associated to Yoon Seungho but also to the artist. He is recalling all the good deeds the lord did to him. Therefore you can now understand why the first picture radiates peace of mind and beauty. Furthermore remember, in chapter 44 we had snow fall too and back then, I had pointed out that in Korea watching the first snow fall with the loved one has a huge signification. It means your wish will come true and it will be a real and deep love. Hence we could say that the snow fall during that magical night announces that Seungho’s dream will come true. Or the snow flakes could also symbolize the painter’s affection for the noble because snow flakes are similar to water drops and remind us of Baek Na-Kyum’s tears. Due to his tears, we know that the character’s personality is a water element. Yet, since he is denial, his love for the master has not become fertile (hence snow), while during their first night in chapter 21, it rained as his dream had come true. Let’s not forget that water is connected to fertility and life. But in chapter 21 this rain had a negative connotation, since it was linked to storm (the sound of a thunder). So it was pouring down, illustrating that this rain was not fecund and didn’t emanate tranquility. All these observations lead me to the following conclusion: the Wedding night had created a turmoil of emotions in both people. Yoon Seungho got swayed away by his feelings, when he was showered with love by the artist, while the latter was swayed away by the sensuality discovered through his first sexual experience. However, since both were not honest to each other and themselves, this night was an illusion causing chaos in the end. This is not surprising that at some point, this night led to a catastrophe, the rape at the pavilion.
And now, if the beholders look at the starry night, they’ll note that the panel contains so many messages:
- The lord is no longer denying or hiding his affection therefore the moon is shining brightly,
- The snow flakes reflect a certain joy coming from the painter
- The painter is finally living his sexuality freely
- He is now gazing at his lover and is able to perceive his affection.
- The tree tops are trying to reach the moon, displaying that the painter’s unconscious desires the lord’s closeness but simultaneously the artist is also getting closer to Yoon Seungho, which already announces what happens in chapter 60. Here, the artist is screaming asking for Yoon Seungho’s help. Surprising is the way Baek Na-Kyum calls the main lead, it’s Lord Seungho!! This is no longer “master Yoon” or “my lord” but he is utilizing his first name!! And this detail didn’t escape Jihwa’s notice. He knows, this unveils a certain intimacy between his ex-lover and the low-born. Imagine, so far, Jihwa only called his friend Seungho, when he was upset: chapter 15 and 17!! He was forced to address him as lord/master Yoon all the time.
- Both are slowly rediscovering their true nature, healing each other
- However, the commoner needs to accept that there’s nothing wrong to love someone from another social status and even defy traditions.
Besides, I would like to point out that due to my interpretations, I discovered that the painter’s personality contains earth-water elements contrasting to Yoon Seungho’s nature. For me, the noble is a combination of fire and air. Remember my comparison to a volcano and my association to the eagle, but the best proof is the phoenix. The phoenix embodies both as the rebirth of this mystical bird is related to fire: reborn from its ashes. Note, this is what I found about the combination of earth-air:
“Earth and water in combination leads to something very sensual and moody indeed. Without any of the distancing possible from the light elements, this personality is easily drawn into the sensual, the exotic, and the new. While earth does mitigate some of water’s tendencies towards mutability, this combination is still somewhat unpredictable, particularly if water edges out earth as the dominant force. The combination of deep-felt emotion and links to the senses makes this person very tied to the world as it is, as well as its experiences.” quoted from http://aelfhame.net/~darkhawk/elem2.html
Sure, I have to admit that I am no psychologist but striking is that this description really fits our innocent man so well. His huge sensuality and unpredictability are the features what caught the aristocrat’s attention. Besides, he lives in the present which corresponds to the following words: “tied to the world as it is”. As for the lord, the author gives the following description:
Air and fire together make for a very powerful, logical personality. With a complete lack of heavy elements, this person can easily detach from mundane living and apply himself to what needs to be done with the full force of fire’s energy. Additionally, air mediates fire’s somewhat scattered tendencies by channeling them through logic, so that while an air/fire person may be working on any of a number of things, all with full energy and force of will, it is in a reasonable progression, and nothing important will get left behind. While this person is not necessarily deeply involved with the physical world, more often applying his force of will to the mental, he is generally practical, because leaving things be that have to be dealt with will only cause problems later. quoted from http://aelfhame.net/~darkhawk/elem2.html
It fits the protagonist so well too: detached (the impression, he is a ghost) and he keeps his distance from people, powerful, logical, strong willed and practical. Baek Na-Kyum can ground more the lord, while the latter give him more support, education and energy. And now, it makes perfect sense why they fit so well to each other, as they create a certain balance. And you might wonder if I didn’t drift away from the topic, since my analysis was about the two panels. However, the readers should recall that we have the wind and clouds in the second panel: air and water elements.
And now, it is time to analyze the second image with the moon. Here, the moon seems closer, then why, since Yoon Seungho rejected his friend? The answer is quite simple. This image represents Jihwa’s perspective. That’s why this picture oozes restlessness. The red-haired noble always felt that he was so close to the main lead, until the commoner appeared therefore the moon appears closer. But this is just a delusion from Jihwa. Now, he has the impression that his ex-lover is disappearing from his life. Therefore we could say that the clouds embody the painter in the aristocrat’s eyes. Hence he is the cause for the separation. If he was removed, then the moon would remain by his side and their closeness would return. That’s how the second character views this night, especially after being humiliated and rejected. But the reality is that the clouds are actually a representation of Jihwa. Therefore, the clouds represent a boundary. It was as if the clouds would circulate around the moon, trapping it. Why do I interpret it like that? It is because of two elements: the composition of clouds which are made of water and air and expressions concerning clouds.
If you know water cycle, you are well aware that evaporation plays a huge part in the formation of clouds. The heat from the sun is the cause for evaporation. As you know, Jihwa is also weeping a lot, hence his first element is also water. However, unlike the commoner, his second element is fire. First, we shouldn’t forget that the noble has always been wearing yellow and orange clothes reminding us of the sun and heat. And if you put fire and water together, you have evaporation. And this is what I found about the combination of fire and water:
Probably the most “unstable” combination of elements is fire and water. Both of these are elements given over to passions of some sort or another, and without the possible mitigations of any of the other elements, this combination has a tendency to go a bit overboard. Emotions are never felt more deeply than by someone who is fire and water, as water’s depth is powered by the sheer force inherent in fire. However, these emotions are prone to change, often without warning, and without apparent reason. Problems tend to phase a fire/water, as their general inclinations are either to blast through or flow around them Ñ and these approaches are fairly contradictory. Others often have trouble dealing with this seeming indecision on the part of this sort of personality, as well as their extremely changeable nature. quoted from http://aelfhame.net/~darkhawk/elem2.html
And just with the two protagonists, this description fits our character. I had already pointed out a certain superficiality in Jihwa’s love (depth of the affection mixed with changes), the tendency going overboard can be viewed with the pranks he played (the ruined painting, the letter, the insult leading Seungho to cut his hair) and his huge switch of moods. Remember in the chapter 12, the manhwalovers saw him really happy and 30 minutes, he was enraged I could include the new episode here. During the same night, he is devastated and lifeless then once he sees the captured painter, he is full of rage and yelling, although he was complaining before that the criminal hadn’t done his work. That’s why we see the constant mood swings in the noble, however they have a different origin than Seungho’s. Nevertheless since both have fire elements in their personality, this is not surprising if they often clashed in the past. And because the cloud embodies the aristocrat, it is important to know its signification. The cloud is the symbol of the ephemeral and impermanence which can not help the main lead to get grounded. Just like the rain and the snow, the cloud is also linked to fertility as it brings water but it can also bring destruction (typhon) or hope (“silver lining”). Now, you understand why Jihwa and the painter are so different, although they both have water in their personality.
Secondly, we have many expressions in French or in English linked to clouds which actually mirror the red-haired character’s nature. He’s living in the clouds signifying that he is ignoring the reality and is rather dreaming (similar to living in cloud-cuckoo land which means to be in an unrealistically idealistic state). As I had pointed out in another former analysis, the aristocrat neglects the present, therefore he never paid attention to reality. He was always hoping of becoming Seungho’s official lover. That’s the reason why I described Jihwa as someone trapped in the past, while his mind was looking at the future, dreaming of an uncertain prospect, living in an illusion. Another expression is having the head in the clouds (another allusion to dream and illusion) or being in cloud 9, which was sometimes palpable in Jihwa’s reactions. His extreme overjoy could turn into extrem despair, like the manhwaphiles could witness it in chapter 43. The way he was dressed exposed his joy and anticipation to be reunited with Seungho. He was already imagining himself being embraced by him, when he saw the lord having sex with the painter. Then he got so upset, jealous and enraged that he would yell and burst into tears at his friend’s pavilion. Then a cloud on the horizon refers to a bad omen, something bad is about to occur and we know that each time, Jihwa approached his childhood friend, something bad happened to the painter later because his feelings had been wounded by his childhood friend before (chapter 5 -> 11; chapter 15-> 17; chapter 57->60). And now it becomes more understandable why Jihwa appears so emotionally unstable, a characteristic of people with a combination of water and fire. Since I have determined that the cloud is a visualization of Jihwa in Seungho’s life, it becomes clear that the following panel has now a different signification. The clouds are circulating around the moon, trying to clinch onto it. The clouds were the reason why the moon couldn’t glow, at the same time, the cloud could never be satisfied with Seungho’s interaction as the warmth from the moon is colder and can never warm up clouds. Both hindered each other to move on. Striking is that in the picture above, it looks like the clouds are moving. It seems that the wind is blowing away the clouds. It could be definitely be perceived as a signal that the clouds are removed slowly from Yoon Seungho’s side, thanks to the wind.
And here is the next question: What does the house mean here? Who is symbolizing the wind? I believe now, you are smart enough to fill the blanks. Nameless has a personality combining earth (roof) and air (wind). Observe that the roof stands in the way, it was already separating the red-haired noble from his childhood friend. Let’s not forget that this panel appears, when the lord is still kneeling down thinking about the last words from his ex-lover. Furthermore, we often see the criminal in the cabin (chapter 51, 59, 60) . Striking is that the light in the cabin is slowly disappearing. The more time passes on, the darker it becomes exposing the evolution of Jihwa’s situation. His world is getting darker as he is more desperate and emotionally wounded.
As for the wind, it is a constant companion of clouds giving them a certain permanence and foundation. The wind helps the cloud to move on. Let’s not forget that in reality, clouds are composed of air and water therefore I see it as another sign that Nameless will help Jihwa to become a different person, give him more stability which is confirmed in chapter 60. He stops the noble from hitting the artist, led by his instincts therefore he takes away the weapon. Exactly like I had explained, he will become Jihwa’s hands but since the noble is now forced to make the decision himself, he will have to bear the responsibility for his decision. If he hadn’t witnessed this, the desperate aristocrat would have refused to be accountable for the crime. The criminal detected the guilty conscience consequently he postponed the murder hoping that the aristocrat would change his mind. In my opinion, he believes that the noble won’t be able to express the death sentence. In two occasions, he underlined the severity of the wrongdoing (chapter 51, 60) which is a clue for me that the butcher doesn’t want the noble to have his hands tainted. Observe that during the last scene, the criminal proposes other alternatives: death or turning Baek Na-Kyum into a handicapped person who can never tell what happened.
Furthermore in different religions the wind is considered as the messenger of the gods, exposes the presence of divinity. Therefore, I believe that Nameless is the one who will bring a huge change in the life of all the main characters, forcing them to switch their perception about life and their life. Notice that before Jihwa was trying to attack the painter, he was still using conditional sentences revealing his desire to deny the reality. By coercing the noble to make a choice, he is forcing him to live in the present and to admit the huge responsibility for the action. And the moment he chooses to have the painter killed, we have to imagine that the door will close and the closing door will symbolize the choice of Jihwa selecting darkness. The commoner stands on the opposite side as his hands and world are already tainted with blood and full of darkness. Yet, he doesn’t desire the naive but impulsive noble to choose this side. By underlining the gravity of the crime, he wanted the noble to follow his pangs of conscience. Therefore you comprehend why this panel was already announcing the role played by Nameless , separating Jihwa from Seungho’s side, forcing him to change his mindset and confront him with reality. That’s why when you read the description of persons with air and earth elements, you’ll recognize Nameless: thoughtfulness and caution.
“Earth when combined with air in an individual makes for someone well-versed in contradiction. Air lends a certain amount of caution and thoughtfulness to the earthy pursuit of sensation and experience. On the other side of the coin, earth forces air to interact with the world as a whole, not allowing it to deny the value of the senses. If this sort of personality can resolve this particular internal conflict, then it is quite well versed in being able to apply concrete meaning to thought, or rationality to the matters of existence and enjoyment in the physical world.” quoted from http://aelfhame.net/~darkhawk/elem2.html
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